Everywhere you look, local high schools have been improving and expanding their athletic fields and programs.
Herricks is the latest school in our area to do so, installing a beautiful artificial turf field, as well as new bleachers and a press box.
Mineola installed turf fields and made related improvements to both their high school and Hampton Stadium properties in 2017; and Carle Place went to turf fields for both their football and baseball fields back in 2014. Roslyn has had a turf football field since 2007, and even Westbury high school has a press box as well as lights for their football field.
But you may have noticed that I made no mention of the athletic facilities at The Wheatley School, of which I am an alumnus.
In the 62 years that Wheatley has been in existence, there has never been either a press box or an electric scoreboard on its football field.
The only scoreboard we did have was an old wooden scoreboard with plywood numbers (a la Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox baseball stadium), and even that relic was torn down in 1992.
In fact, even the football field bleachers were removed in 1995 and were not replaced until 2010, (and are inadequate at best).
In the 12 years since Wheatley has combined with Carle Place for football, the only athletic-related improvement made by the East Williston school district to its Wheatley property has been the afore-mentioned bleachers.
For the one football game per season that is played at Wheatley, we have to use the girl’s softball scoreboard, for which spectators have to turn away from the field to get a glimpse. There is no field house to store equipment, nor are there bathroom facilities, which exist at Mineola, Roslyn, North Shore High School and are currently under construction at Herricks. There are also no baseball dug-outs, such as there are at both Carle Place and Mineola ball fields.
For years now, I have petitioned the East Williston Board of Education and the district administration for upgrades and improvements to the district’s athletic programs to no avail.
There simply is no interest on their part in making the necessary capital improvements to keep pace with every other school district on Long Island.
This attitude is shameful on their part; and a major disservice to the students of our district. It’s no wonder that so few students from our district play football or even attend our games as spectators.
The district continues to demonstrate its favoritism toward soccer, yet installing a turf field on the football field would provide its soccer players with a significantly-upgraded surface on which to play from its currently crater-strewn field.
In fact, only last year, after many years of urging them to do so, did the district finally install a “Home of the Wildcats” sign. And where has the so-called “Wildcat Athletic Foundation” been through all these years? I can tell you this — AWOL.
I can give you an example of an athletic booster club that gets things accomplished-the W.T. Clarke High School booster club, which in 2011 donated a brand-new electric scoreboard for its football/soccer/lacrosse field.
I can only wonder why a school such as Clarke, which has roughly the same number of students as Wheatley, can accomplish this feat while Wheatley cannot (or will not).
The East Williston School District needs some athletically oriented individuals to petition on behalf of its student-athletes and to break through the anti-sports mentality with its endless stream of committees and sub-committees that accomplish nothing and short-change both our student-athletes and the community-at-large.
As a final point of evidence to my assertion that both the administration and the students are apathetic to sports at Wheatley, I submitted basically these same points to the Wheatley School newspaper back in January, asking them to print my letter in an upcoming issue of the paper and was rejected.
For a school whose motto is “Seek the Truth” their rejection was nothing more than rank censorship.
A Wildcat to the End